Established by the VTC, the Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong (“THEi”) has witnessed the graduation of the first batch of its graduates in 2016. William Yan Tsz Wai, currently an Assistant Civil Engineer with Hip Hing Construction Company Limited, was one of them, graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering. In retrospect, William has experienced loads of “First Endeavours” in the past four years while growing together with his alma mater; short as their encounter was, William has smitten and infatuated with THEi.
According to William, he received offers from two other local private universities after he attained university entrance requirements in the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination. Since his interest is in civil engineering, he decided to go with THEi and started his university life in this brand new college.
THEi currently offers as many as 20 degree programmes with a total enrolment of about 3,000 students. Four years ago when William first started his studies at THEi, there were only a mere 30 students or slightly more. The smaller number of students led to much closer relationship with the teaching staff and among the students. It goes without saying that William came to acquaint with each and every one of his classmates; and what appears in other universities as a distant and even undreamed of relationship has also become a reality: at THEi, William and his classmates addressed the professor as “Big Brother or Mate”, just like family members, “Sometimes we came across difficulties in our studies, and when we really got stuck even after discussing among ourselves, we went straight to the professor’s office and he would always explain to us patiently until we fully understood it, lasting more than an hour at times.”
The First Endeavours at THEi
When a group of “freshmen” encounters a brand new college, only the sky is the limit. THEi provides lots of freedom and autonomy to the students and William has made numerous “First Endeavours” in the campus. The Christian Fellowship was founded by William and a couple of others; the one that William really took pride in, was the project of “Wu Zhi Qiao” he participated in as a volunteer traversing the remote hills and villages in Mainland China, building footbridges for villagers, and also doing renovation projects for schools and paving clay playground with concrete.
As the project was in the remote mountain area of Chongqing, William had to spend one whole year’s time for preparation, issues like delivering the construction materials there was not an easy task already. He found that he has improved his self-learning capability in course of the project, “With the help of our teachers, communication with the villagers, and the information that we managed to obtain in the internet, ultimately we deployed the mules to do the transportation and we even succeeded to beat the deadline of completing the project in one week’s time. We were all very exhilarated to see the journey to its end after a whole year of hard work and effort.” Although William has already graduated, he will continue to be the consultant of the “Wu Zhi Qiao” project at THEi in order to provide a bridge for those coming after him so that the project will continue to serve more people who are most needy.
Internship Enhances Confidence
William has attained outstanding results in his studies and was also awarded scholarships but his confidence in civil engineering was not innate. William shared with us how badly he fared at the very beginning, “Very timid and scared while speaking, totally lacking confidence.” Fortunately, THEi provides internships for each and every student so that they would all acquire the precious on-the-job experience, “I still remember when it came to the close of my internship, an engineer in the company shared with me – to be rebuked at work was very normal, because if a person was afraid of being told off and hence lacking confidence in everything he did and said, it would be hard for him to qualify as an engineer!”
The experience that he got from the internship, coupled with the professional knowledge that he acquired from the preparation of his graduation thematic project, has put William on level ground with graduates from other universities during job interviews, even without the benefit of references from senior graduates. He explained, “The interviewer would ask a lot of questions involving professional expertise in civil engineering, you would be able to respond well if you are well prepared and he would then know THEi is a reputable higher education institution.” In the end, half of the companies that invited William to interviews gave him job offers which was promising.
Looking ahead, William is poised to pursue a Master Degree and has also started preparing for the qualifying examinations of a professional engineer. It is fundamental to have a substantial and strong foundation to build a skyscraper. If THEi is symbolised as a skyscraper and all the students are its bricks and tiles, then William, being one of the first batch of graduates, would be like the foundation stone of this behemoth: “Being one of the first batch of graduates, I just strived to excel at work so that those coming after me will have a good reference.” What a reflection of his passion and love of his alma mater and those coming after him.